I am a member of many groups on Facebook (many, many groups), mostly all related around the topic of how to parent both a difficult to diagnose child and children with difficult diagnoses. I have to say this: Today, it struck me that we all make lots of excuses in regards to our own behavior as well as our kids. So now, I am wondering if we stop making excuses and look at how our behavior negatively affects our children’s behaviors (myself included) and just own up to our own slackness, things might be a little clearer.
Lots of advice gets asked for and in turn shared around the forums, but today I realized, most people don’t really want advice, all they really want is the information on the stuff that is not too hard to do. What we all want is that magic pill, we are looking for that one parent to post who says “here, this is the easy way, do this and ~voila~ all will be good in the world, all will be right with your child.”
Today there was a thread responding to a lady who has tried “everything” to help her ADHD child calm down. She said that the meds are not working and he is still having a hard time. There, along with the “go to your doctor, change his meds, add exercise, occupy his time better” and other snippets of advice, was the topic of nutrition, as it invariably is. The response to that particular advice was, “I can’t remove dyes because my child has sensory issues and refuses to eat most things, if I eliminated food choices he would starve, it’s well known that children with sensory issues will starve rather than eat!”
Reading it, I thought to myself, that was a little harsh of a reply considering we all know she hasn’t really “tried everything?” Of course she hasn’t tried everything, she herself said that he is eating food dyes which have in studies been proven to have a negative effect on behavior.” This isn’t a crime, it’s certainly not compulsory to do the Feingold diet or even a modified version if that’s not where you think the benefits will be. She doesn’t have to try any of the diet interventions if she doesn’t want to. For me, I live in the realm of, it’s her child, her choices, her life. I don’t live in her house, or walk in her shoes, I have no idea of her life circumstances, finances or assistance. I actually have no reason to judge her at all, so on that note pretend this post isn’t even about one person, it’s about all of us.
Truthfully, how refreshing would it be if someone asked for advise and then responded by saying, “I can’t be bothered” or I don’t want to.” Should it irk me (you) if instead they say “it’s impossible because … [insert excuse here].” It’s kinda annoying right? Its getting to where I kinda want to call them on it to be honest!
So, to be fair and to show I am a good sport and in charge of my own truth – in true full disclosure on that very topic – with some soul searching (OK didn’t need to search too deep), my own true confession time. Here goes: I have known for a long time my parenting skills are somewhat suspect in respect to my kid’s behaviors, or rather my parenting skills may actually enhance their poor behavior choices.
It’s always there, nagging away in the back of my mind, what I do and say has power over what they do and say! Of course, I too would like to think it’s all down to biology, nature versus nurture and all that. I am fairly sure that for the most part we parents are convinced that, even though we are not winning every parenting award out there, we are as diligent and competent as any ‘perceived good parent.’
I don’t beat or even spank my kids, I only buy organic foods, we have eliminated nasty things like GMO’s or arsenic fed chickens, there are no dyes or chemicals in their bath and hygiene products, they even use a fluoride free toothpaste, they certainly never eat dyes and chemicals EXCEPT that (hanging head), I have been known to let them cheat, only every once in a while mind you, but occasionally I will allow them to eat something that has wheat/dairy or corn in it, any of these things totally causes a ton of behavior issues in this house, not to mention upset tummies and days of complaining about that, and I KNOW this, but I do it anyway [another big sigh, commence hand wringing and shaking head :(].
Worse than the food thing, my biggest infraction has to be that: I spoil my children! “Gasp” yes, I spoil them. Honestly, my kids want for pretty much nothing. In this house, usually if they ask, they shall receive. I will make a half hearted attempt to have them do chores, save their pocket money, be more helpful around the house, I ask for (never demand) respect, I always insist on good manners, I model good behavior and my children are well aware of the social etiquette of please, thank you, m’am, sir, etc. But then I find myself negotiating with them over a simple request to take a shower. It becomes a tactical negotiation, “can I just finish watching this?” … “oh ok, but soon as this is over switch it off and do ….” to which of course 30 minutes later they are still watching TV and the shower/dishwasher/trash cans or whatever I requested, is/are still sitting waiting to be completed, emptied or brought up from the sidewalk. I forget, I sit down and start getting on with things (like this blog) and I don’t stay the course, and inevitably I end up doing it myself – well not the shower part but the actual chore type requests. I choose an easier path for me, I admit it, but of course I can see and I KNOW, I am also short-changing them in the long run. Allowing them to shirk chores effectively or enabling the art of negotiation gives them certain life skills I am sure, but not ones that are conducive to good citizenship or good parenting sadly.
So what to do, what to do. Certainly in our house one is better than the other, she has more goals, she has more reasons to save. The boy, cares for nothing mostly. If he doesn’t get it easily, he doesn’t want it, which is hard to battle around. More reasonably, I need to step up, I need to take on the task of staying on track with their chores, I am tired, I am fed up and it’s easier to do it myself, but realistically I might be less tired, less fed up if I wasn’t the one picking up the wet towels rather than allowing my kids to think we possess magical towels that drag themselves to the laundry basket. The Boston Globe published an article on why it’s good for our kids to do chores.
Anyway I ran off course as I often do. Really, in the grand scheme of things it’s impossible to do “everything” in regards to helping our kids behave better, to be less spinny, less obnoxious, less anxious, less depressed, less ADHD. Trying to do “everything” just adds to our stress and maybe even sets us up for failure. For my failings, I know I could be better at getting him plenty of exercise and that along with brushing up on my own core parenting skills ie., being less indulgent, focusing less on stuff and more working towards goals that build their self-esteem, self-worth and self-value, could go a long way to raising a well rounded respectful adult – but honestly if you said that to me, I truly would be offended. So yes, of course I haven’t done everything but the next time someone suggests something to me, I will either say, “you know what thank you, yes I will try that” and I really will try it or I will say “nahhh you know what, I just don’t want to do that or I am not willing to see if it makes a difference in our lives” and honestly, what I am really saying is that the effort I need to put forth for the reward is not great enough to me personally to even try, and you know what, that’s ok because I don’t actually have to try anything!